Coal Terminal Cumulative Impact Assessment

Client: CDM Smith
SkillsDustDispersion modelling
Location: Abbot Point, Queensland, Australia
Date: 2012

The terminal developers (North Queensland Bulk Ports, Adani, BHP Billiton and GVK Hancock) at the Port of Abbot Point needed a rigorous information base to demonstrate to federal and state environmental regulators that the port could expand while protecting the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Katestone completed the air quality component of the cumulative impact assessment, which aimed to quantify the potential cumulative effects on the adjacent Caley Valley wetland and marine environment from the operations of the existing T1 and the proposed T0, T2 and T3 terminals.

The Abbot Point cumulative impact assessment is the first collaborative study of its kind in Australia.

Coal dust emissions can occur wherever coal is picked up, conveyed or stockpiled. Trace quantities of other elements may also be present.

Katestone generated a three-dimensional meteorological dataset representative of prevailing conditions. We combined it with project data to estimate hourly profiles of dust emission rates for terminal activities.

Source characteristics, emission rates, site-specific meteorology and geographic features were then incorporated into a dispersion modelling system. Ground-level concentrations of dust were predicted and compared with state air quality objectives. The rate of dust predicted to be deposited in the wetlands was compared to a threshold value developed to avoid effects on photosynthesis.

The study determined ground-level dust concentrations and deposition and predicted the likelihood of exceedance of air quality objectives. The study concluded that the potential impacts could be mitigated by implementing proactive and reactive management strategies, which would involve real-time monitoring of pollutants at sensitive and background sites.

Katestone also recommended additional measures including an Action Response Plan based on real-time monitoring, where additional mitigation may be implemented during unfavourable conditions.

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